Thursday, October 20, 2016


Me in 1963
Goggomobil Dart
Me on left, Vicki, one of my workmates at Tozer & Jeffery and Evonne whose sister worked with Vicki and me at T & J.  Taken at a party shortly before I left Gympie in 1965.  Evonne married Graham Jeffery and they remain in happy wedded bliss to this day.
4IP Colour Radio Guys
Randall, Me and the Austin Healey Sprite. And Randall in his Colour Radio Blazer middle photo above.

The five years I worked at Tozer and Jeffery, Solicitors – from July, 1960 to July, 1965 - were, without doubt or argument, some of the happiest years of my life.  It was a great place to work; and my co-workers, as well as my boss, John Jeffery and his wife, “Ted” aka Mrs. Edna Jeffery were wonderful people.  Mrs. Jeffery, of course, was always “Mrs. Jeffery” to the staff.

She and I got on very well, to the extent she told me as she was driving me home on the night of my send-off party shortly before I left Gympie for Brisbane she’d always looked upon me as the daughter she’d never had.  She and Mr. Jeffery had two sons, one of whom, the eldest, Graham also worked within his father’s firm, as I mentioned in my previous post.  

As a parting gift, with tears in her eyes, Mrs. Jeffery gave me a pair of pearl earrings.

On reflection, I often wonder when or even if my “partners-in-crime” – the three other girls in the office – the three other legal secretaries and I ever got any work done.  We must have done so, of course, but we certainly had a lot of fun while doing so.  I think we managed to fit the work in between the fun!  We got away with blue murder.  We became experts at it.  Naturally, I won’t divulge who the ring-leader was.  I swore myself to secrecy with the threat of dire consequences if I dobbed on myself.

Morning tea, which, in normal circumstances and in normal workplaces, usually is of 10 minutes duration. Not so at Tozer and Jeffery when I was in their employ.  Our “staff room” was downstairs in the “dungeon” as we called it...the basement below street level.

Like regulars at a pub bar, we each had our own special chair and place to sit, and woe behold if anyone stole someone else’s chair and place!  Mine was a high, swivel chair that stood a number of inches above the rest, which meant when I sat in it I was towering over proceedings...holding court! The conductor of a symphony orchestra would've been proud!

I concocted a plan with the other girls, telling them I’d give them a sign – a head’s up - when my game was set in place, about to begin.  They knew not to react, but to go along with the plan. It was a plan, to our amusement, I often put into play.  We all deserved Oscars for our performances.

Very often our morning tea breaks extended far beyond the normal 10 minutes.

As soon as I’d notice Mrs. Jeffery stirring in readiness to go back upstairs, to return to work I’d raise a controversial subject, one I knew would stimulate Mrs. Jeffery’s interest.  My wicked strategy worked every time without fail.  It was akin to catching fish in a bowl.

Within seconds, Mrs. Jeffery was sucked in and a lengthy, in-depth debate ensued. 

If she ever did wake up to my contrived schemes she never let on.  We were often down there in the “dungeon” for an hour or more solving the world’s problems.  Many interesting, intelligent conversations were conducted.  And those amongst us who had their lunch hours between 12 noon and 1 pm had little time to knuckle down to their typing between morning tea and their lunch break!  Our lunch hours were staggered. Some took the earlier hour, and others, like me, took the 1 pm to 2 pm break. 

We were a wickedly, mischievous lot, of that there is no doubt, but we did get our work done and done successfully, otherwise we’d been shown the door.  We never were.

I’m still friends with a couple of the girls with whom I worked, and Graham Jeffery is still a cherished friend, too.  When the subject of those morning teas arises we laugh and wonder how the hell we got away with our nonsense for so long and so often!

In 1963, a new boy arrived in town, drawing much attention to himself, not only for his good looks, but also because of the car he drove...a little white Goggomobil Dart.  It was the first one, and probably ever the only one, seen in Gympie.   

Randall was his name; he joined the radio announcers at the local radio station, 4GY.  

Long story short, that handsome young fellow and I eventually became boyfriend and girlfriend; and eventually he sold the Goggo and bought a Austin Healey Sprite.  We loved the Sprite, but missed the dear little Goggo.

In January, 1965, on his 21st birthday, we became engaged.  Shortly thereafter Randall left Gympie to take up a position at Radio 4IP in Ipswich as one of the “Colour Radio” guys.  In those days 4IP was a major force in the radio world in Queensland.

Mid-1965 I decided the time had come for me to leave Gympie.  With Randall working in Ipswich, Brisbane was my choice, my obvious destination.  Fortunately, through a friend, I found a flat (and a flatmate) in Toowong, an inner, western suburb of Brisbane.  Toowong was about 30kms, give or take from Ipswich...a lot closer than the 209kms between Gympie and Ipswich

On reflection, once my mind was made up all the pieces fell into place, one by one.

To all and sundry I announced I was going to move to live and work in the city, Brisbane. Immediately I started turning the wheels towards that direction.

My boss, John Jeffery, upon my handing him one month’s notice, said he wasn’t surprised at my decision. He’d been expecting it.   

While I sat in the chair before him in his office, he picked up his telephone and called a solicitor/lawyer friend of his who was a partner in an inner-city Brisbane law firm.  

 John Jeffery called Tony Atkinson, one of the partners in largest law firm in Brisbane at the time, and supposedly, in the southern hemisphere....Morris, Fletcher & Cross.  Morris, Fletcher & Cross are now MinterEllison.

From Wikipedia:-  MinterEllison is a multinational professional services firm based in Australia. The firm has offices in five countries and 15 cities, including in every Australian capital city, London, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Ulaanbaatar. By number of lawyers it is the largest provider of legal services in Australia. In the 2016 Acritas brand index, the Firm was named in the top 10 law firm brands in the Asia Pacific region, being regarded for "top-level litigation" and for "high-value work".
For the 2014/2015 financial year, MinterEllison acted on a large number of M&A transactions with a total deal value of A$30 billion as well as A$34 billion worth of infrastructure projects during the year. It also advised 70 per cent of the ASX 50 companies, a group that represents the large-cap component of the Australian stock market.

Formerly known as Minter Ellison Lawyers, MinterEllison was a member of the Big Six leading Australian law firms before that term was superseded by a series of international law firm mergers.  In March 2015, MinterEllison dropped "lawyers" from its name, along with the space between "Minter" and "Ellison". The firm announced that these changes were part of its new strategy of both emphasising diversification into non-legal services such as project management, consulting and other professional services, and also no longer insisting upon widely-accepted grammatical conventions. Chief Executive Tony Harrington told the Australian Financial Review that the change in branding and strategy is the firm adapting to "phenomenal change in the market: change that encompasses technology-driven standardised products, increased in-house capacity at clients, increased liberalisation of syntactical norms, and ever-consolidating larger businesses." MinterEllison is aiming for substantial growth, planning to increase revenue from roughly A$400 million to around A$600 million by 2020. In April 2016, Minter Ellison launched a contract lawyer business, Flex, to provide clients with an alternative cost model for legal services.

MinterEllison's origins can be traced back to 1827, when Frederick Wright Unwin was admitted to practice in New South Wales. Its first international office was opened in London in 1974, and its roots in China date back to the 1980s, when it was part of the Beijing Interjura consultancy (1987-1993) and though a co-operation agreement with Great Wall Law Firm (the law firm of China's Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade) signed in 1990.

In 1986, Ellison Hewison & Whitehead merged with Gillotts and with Minter Simpson & Co to become Minter Ellison.

In 1992, Minter Ellison and Morris Fletcher & Cross merged to become Minter Ellison Morris Fletcher and in 1995, the firm officially becomes known as Minter Ellison. In 2000, the Canberra office merged with Deacon Graham & James.

The firm established offices in Hong Kong in 2000, Shanghai in 2001, Beijing in 2010, and Ulaanbaatr in 2012.

On 1 September 2001 the New Zealand (Auckland and Wellington) law firm of Rudd Watts & Stone changed its name to Minter Ellison Rudd Watts (this firm is a member of the MinterEllison Legal Group and as an 'associated' firm does not form part of the integrated MinterEllison partnership.)

I sat transfixed as Mr. Jeffery spoke on the phone. “I’ve a lass here who wants to live in the city. Do you have a place for her there? You do! That’s great!” 

Looking to me, he said, “When can you start?”

“Umm…six weeks, I…I guess…I’ll need a little time to settle in etc.  I’ll have to find somewhere to live...” I stammered in return.

“Okay….Lee will be there at “such–and-such-a-time at such-and-such-a-day”,” he replied.

That was it! As simple as making a telephone call, I had a job. No interview was required. In those days, in the mid-Sixties, country girls were snapped up by city law firms like we were rare pieces of gold.

Now, all I had to do was find somewhere to live, again by remote control.

I wanted to “flat” by myself. (a “flat” is a unit or apartment to those of you who have never heard of this description).

Even back then I wanted desperately my own “space” and didn’t take kindly to the idea of sharing my living area with anyone else. My mother and grandmother wouldn’t hear of it, though. That was one thing they put their collective “foot” down upon.

Begrudgingly, I telephoned a girl I used to know.  Glenda had moved to Brisbane a couple of years earlier. Explaining my plight to her, she agreed to help me out if she could.

Again, my timing was perfect.

Fortunately, a workmate of hers had a younger sister who was looking for a “flat-mate” to share her living expenses etc. Everything was falling into place for me, and as yet, I’d not even left Gympie to put the square pieces into the square holes or the round pieces into the round holes.

All I needed to do was work through the four weeks to the day of my departure, pack my meager possessions and buy a train ticket.

Once more, the winds were blowing favourably for me.

A neighbours’ house was being painted during this period. One of the painters drove back to Brisbane each weekend to spend time with his family. 

Willingly, he offered me a lift whenever I was ready to leave Gympie.

PS....Randall headed off to New York in late November, 1965...returned to Australia in late November, 1974....we eventually married in 1976...then separated in 1986...but we've remained friends to this day....

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


(The second chapter of my previous post -"The Art of Growing Up...One Step at a Time" will probably be posted next week)
I’ve got a quite a few beefs, but I won’t bore you with them.  I won’t be a beast of burden and off-load them onto you. I’m sure you have more than enough of your own to deal with than to listen to my tripe. When I have a bone to pick I try to iron things out privately, in private, by telling myself to just get on with things. I give myself a virtual slap on the cheek, telling myself to get over it; to stop wasting energy on things over which mostly I have absolutely no control.  Sometimes I miss the mark, and I whack myself on the flank; and that hurts!  There really is no point stewing over things.  Doing so just makes matters worse; but, of course, like with many things, it’s easier said than done.

However, when we realise the only person we’re stressing out is one’s own true self, it’s time to wake up and smell the roses...not the manure.  

When I discover I’ve by-passed the roses for the manure I chuck a wobbly, and then give myself a good roasting. 

Once I’ve got all the beefs out of my system I don my favourite skirt and head out in the hope I’ll run into Sir Loin who has his lion share of fans, by the way.  

Sir Loin lives above the Porter House, around the T-Bone bend on the top side of the road.  I love to rib him by pulling his leg.   Often I teasingly call him “Sweetbreads”. In retaliation he calls me “Sweet Cheeks”.  It’s all in the name of fun; I’d stake my life on that. 

Our ribbing beefs things up in what often is a dreary world.  

He tells me – “I’ve got my eye on you, young lady!”  (He generously uses “young”. I don’t have the heart to contradict him). 

Laughingly, although sometimes tinged with a hint of ire, he gives me a tongue-lashing. However, within seconds, like kidney stones, the slightest sign of annoyance passes.  

Sir Loin never wakes up with, as my Nana used to say when my Mum woke up in a grumpy mood – “Your mother woke up with S-O-L this morning!”  (In other words - “blank” on the liver!  You can fill in the blank)!
I wonder if anyone uses that descriptive term these days, or like many other things, has it gone out of fashion?  

Although his hair is a little on the silver side these days, Sir Loin’s wit is still as sharp as a blade.  “The world is your oyster” is one of his sayings.  

He sometimes sternly states; “Knuckle down! Get your rump into gear!” 

He and his brother “Short” Loin are similar in tastes as well as other things.  They’re cut from the same beast, so to speak.

 “Short” is a good sport. Whichever way you look at it both are tender Loins.  

I enjoy tearing strips off them. I pretend to kick them in the shin, or dig them in the ribs. It matters not – they have spare ribs.

Rather than being a stiff neck and having a beef I prefer to have fun and a belly laugh.  
If you give me the cold shoulder I’ll rack off. 

Relax! I won’t get on a roll and list all my beefs; just a couple...

To round off - the other day I did have a beef as big as a grass-fed Santa Gertrudis.  I had a problem with a service and was forced to talk with someone in the Philippines, Timbuktu or Uzbekistan who spoke quietly at a rapid rate of knots. Her accent was difficult to decipher, and, annoyingly, the line (on her end) also kept breaking up. 

Grinding my teeth, I tried not to get hot under the collar. I failed...not miserably...I just failed and I was miserable.  I did my best to disguise my mood.  I needed the problem fixed so figured going with the approach....a little oil helps fix squeaky wheels (and it soothes cranky beasts, too, I think).

Secondly, I’ve a constant beef about those who’ve forgotten the two simple words in the English language (or in any other language, for that matter – I’m not here to split hairs or to be pedantic) – “Thank you”.  So simple, and yet, so hard for some to say....

Thirdly...I’ve no beef with folk who don’t mince their words, unless they’re unnecessarily frank, thoughtlessly hurting the feelings of others. There’s no stock in doing so.

That’s enough beefs for one day....

Braised Beef Cheeks: Heat 2tbs olive oil in a heavy pan; sear 1.5kg trimmed beef cheeks in batches over med-heat on all sides, until a nice crust. Remove beef; add 2tbs olive oil, 200g thickly sliced speck, 2 trimmed, chopped leeks, 4 sliced carrots, 4 sliced celery stalks and 4 garlic cloves; toss well; cook 5mins. Add 500ml red wine; simmer 5mins; add 400ml chicken stock, 2tbs tomato paste, 4 anchovy fillets, 2 bay leaves, 4 thyme sprigs, 2 rosemary sprigs; season. Return beef cheeks; simmer 5mins. Tightly cover; cook in 150C oven 4-1/2hrs or until tender. To serve, pick out herbs; strain half cooking liquid in to pan; boil until glossy; serve cheeks with mashed potato, pasta or polenta; ladle reduced sauce over top.

Beef Olives: Heat 1tbs olive oil in pan; add 3tbs pine nuts and 1tbs cumin seeds; stir over med-heat until nuts are golden and seeds start to pop. Soak 1/4c currants in boiling water, 1min. Steam 1 bunch spinach until just wilted; drain; chop. Combine pine nuts, cumin, currants, spinach, 1/4c chopped coriander, grated rind of 1 lemon and 1c cooked couscous; season; then firmly press into sausage shape.  Cut 1kg topside steak into 8 thin pieces; flatten with meat mallet. Place the stuffing in centre of beef pieces; fold beef over to enclose; tuck ends in; secure firmly with string. Heat 2tbs olive oil in large casserole; brown beef rolls on all sides; remove from casserole. Add 2 chopped onions; cook until golden. Add 500ml red wine, 2c beef stock and2tbs tomato paste; bring to boil; add beef; cover; cook at l170C, 1-1/2 to 2 hours. Remove string. Serve beef olives with sauce poured over top, along with roasted kumara mash and fresh spinach and rocket tossed salad.   ** This is a variation on one of the first recipes I cooked during my Home Science course taken when I was going to High School.  I still have the original recipe written and illustrated in the original book I'd put together for school.

Beef Mince Wellington: Chop 1 onion, 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk and 1 med-potato into 1cm cubes. Put 2tbs olive oil in pan; add vegetables, sprinkling beef stock powder and mixed herbs. On med-heat, fry 9mins; add 2 minced garlic cloves. Cool; add 500g beef mince; season.  Lightly beat 1 egg; add half to mince; mix together. Place mince along one long side of puff pastry sheet in sausage shape; brush edges with egg; roll pastry over mince; seal. Put on baking tray; brush with egg; bake 1hr in 175C oven.

Friday, September 30, 2016


Tozer & Jeffery, Solicitors (as the firm was known when I worked there from 1960 to 1965)

Me aged 16 on Mooloolaba Beach...I'd got my hair lopped off after leaving school circa 1960/61
Me, Val, Graham Jeffery, Vickie and Vonda circa 1964

To preface: One of the fun things about reading the blogs of others, and their various comments on my own blog is they rekindle memories of my own.  This interesting, magical phenomenon applies to our highly-acclaimed blogger, none other than the Honourable Yorkie of Yorkshire Pudding fame...aka Mr. Pudding (only the select few in the inner circle are allowed to call him “Mr. Pudding”; even less are allowed to call him “Mr. Pud”)!  Mr. Pud accused me of plagiarism the other day.  He accused me of stealing from the equally highly-acclaimed, world famous, celebrated purveyor of ramblings Lee George.  I am here to set the record straight, Sir Pudding!  (I know you know I'm just kidding around with you - as you were with me). Waving my arm in the air, I freely and willingly admit – I own up - I, in fact, did steal from Lee George...if stealing from one’s own self is possible. She did give me her permission to do so.  However, I did sign the papers saying I had the right to apply poetic licence. Said Lee George was born Lee Nicholson, but her biological name soon morphed into Lee Hill (“Hill” being the name of her much-hated stepfather). Throughout her childhood and teenage years she was known to all and sundry (“all and sundry” never did know the true story) by her latter nom de plume; one which she carried through until she married at the tender age of 21 years.  Lee Hill then became Lee Cummings. I was happy to be rid of the name “Hill”. 10 years later, after a very civil, amicable divorce, Lee re-married.  She then became Lee George.  Another 10 years flowed under many bridges or like sand in an hour glass...after marrying and divorcing a second time, Lee retained the surname “George”...because she likes it!  It’s direct, straight to the frills, bells or whistles.

Still bearing the name “Lee Hill” I enrolled at Gympie State High School the subjects I chose to study were Maths A, bookkeeping, shorthand, typing, English, History, Geography and Home Science. 

Throughout primary school I did well in class. My record both as a scholar and attendee continued into high school.  I never hit “top of the class...Number One place setting”, but I was always in the top four or five.  From my recollection, class sizes in the Fifties and early Sixties were around 30 or so...give or take.  I attended co-ed schools, primary and secondary.   The course I took in high school was a “Commercial Course”...and it consisted of girls only; but the school as a whole was co-educational.

I liked school; I enjoyed school, but my desire to earn money – to be able to bring money into our home - was far stronger.  

I knew by leaving school I’d also be leaving my school friends behind because I left high school midway through the year; but that didn’t deter me.  There were new people to meet...and a whole new life to live.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, my mother wanted me to go through onto Teachers’ Training College, but I didn’t.  My stance to leave school was the first time I set my heels, feet and toes in and fought my battle – not “to get my own get what I wanted” in those simple terms...I toed the line, stood tall, faced Mum eye to eye while I stated my case...gave my reasons.  Nana, who, at first was Mum’s ally in our almighty battle, in time, became a fair, clear-minded negotiator, intermediary. It was Nana who finally swayed my mother to my way of thinking.

From the moment I walked out of the school gate for the last time in July, 1960 at the age of 15 years - I turned 16 in November, 1960 - to commence my working life as a legal secretary in the office of Tozer & Jeffery, a local Gympie law firm, I harboured a secret yearning to leave Gympie, the town in which I was raised and educated. I desperately wanted to spread my wings and fly away (or be driven away to the city; even by train, if I couldn’t get a lift)!

However, I was aware I was too young, and far too inexperienced to leave home at the age I was. In the meantime, I was prepared to exercise patience. I kept a lid on my dream, knowing one day it would come into fruition.   

I’d been a shy child.  The shyness continue into my early teens ; but I knew being a shrinking violet wouldn’t be to my advantage if I wanted to grow and learn.   

Gradually, as I matured I knew how to handle my to disguise it; how to face the world and those in it head held high.  Stand tall, shoulders back, head high, stomach pulled in and look the world in the eye... as Nana and Mum used to always tell me and my older brother, Graham to do.

I recall one night, years later in the early Seventies when my mother was visiting me in Brisbane.  She and Nana were living at Slade Point, via Mackay at the time.  Mum and I were enjoying a wine or three over dinner while conversing at length.  I was around 28 years old; living a single life having separated from my first husband three or so years earlier. 

My first husband and I didn’t divorce until five years after our separation.  Neither of us was in a hurry; nor did we have any bad feelings towards each other. We’re still on friendly terms. When we finally did divorce I handled all the paperwork myself without using a solicitor/lawyer.  I’d had five years experience working as a legal secretary, which meant I had a fair idea what I was doing without having to spend unnecessary money for a solicitor to do work I was capable of doing myself. Also, around that time the Divorce Law Reform had come into play.

The magistrate in front of whom I appeared wasn’t too impressed by my not calling upon one of his mates in the legal profession.  He was no doubt part of “the old boys’ club”.   But, that was okay because I wasn’t too impressed by the magistrate’s grumpy, holier-than-thou attitude either.  Our divorce cost us peanuts...just the price of my taxi fare to the law court and a dollar or two more for stationery. I didn’t charge for my time!

Returning to the conversation of the particular Saturday night between my mother and me – Mum told me she’d held fears for me when I was a little girl because I was so shy around strangers.  Because of my shyness, she feared I wouldn't be able to cope “out there in the wide, wild world”. She’d hoped that my shyness wouldn’t stop me from enjoying and experiencing life and all the good things it had to offer.  In many ways, upon reflection, my shyness as a child was my shield, I think.  

In truth, the inner “Lee”; the true “Lee” is still shy. Through many years of experience, I've learned to control it...disguise and hide it from the prying eyes of others.

I’m not Robinson Crusoe. I believe many of us are shy in our own way.  We learn how to handle it; how deal with it. 

Not long after I started working I realised I didn’t want to be the wallflower lurking in the shadows, alone.  I didn’t want to “miss out” - on anything.  It was time to take a deep, deep breath....take the tentative first step....

One of the first rude (and necessary) awakenings I received was during my early days as a legal secretary.  A short while after commencing work I knocked on my boss’s office door.  Gingerly, I entered his office. Equally timidly I asked my boss, Mr. Jeffery (John Jeffery) if I could “go to the toilet”. 

Mr. Jeffery smiled at me kindly, and said: “Lee, you’re no longer at school.  You never have to ask my permission to go to the toilet.” 
And I never did ever again.

I don’t recall the exact Monday I commenced work, but I guarantee I would’ve been a bundle of nerves, and probably had turned purple from holding that deep breath! 

I entered the office as the youngest among my co-workers.  The two other girls were older than I was.  One was three years older and the other four or five years. 

When I first started working in the office there were two girls...I was replacing one of them who was moving to Brisbane to live.  Eventually, as time went by, our number grew from two to four.

My two co-workers in those early days were sisters.  The older sister, Dallas was the one I was replacing.

The office consisted of the legal secretaries, Mr. Jeffery, the solicitor, his law clerks, Mr. Alf Boban and Mr. Keith Brown (“Brownie” as he was affectionately called) and Mrs Jeffery, who handled the firm’s bookkeeping requirements.  And then, Mr. Jeffery's eldest son, Graham, joined us.  He did his Articles under his father's jurisdiction.  Graham was the same age as my brother...both were two or so years older than me.  I'm still friends with Graham Jeffery.
Mostly I handled Brownie’s work...which meant taking shorthand from him.  He was fun to work with.  He was also the town photographer, called upon for weddings, news stories, balls and any other likely event.  His photos were published in the local newspaper, the “Gympie Times”; and very soon I became one of his favoured subjects.  I was easy prey, I suppose - "Johnny on the Spot...or Lee on the Spot"!

The “Tozer” of Tozer & Jeffery” no longer existed other than in name only.  The building in Mary Street, Gympie housing the firm (now known as Jeffery, Cuddihy & Joyce. Graham took over his father's firm.  Graham is now retired} is a heritage-listing building. It was built in 1896. It was built for Horace Tozer who was later knighted.   

The building is a two-story building with a basement below street level.  It was in the basement we enjoyed our lengthy morning tea breaks.  (More about the length of those breaks later...other than to say they returned to their normal length after I left the company)!  The basement also housed a rather large strong room that was filled with documents, books, ledgers, files etc., from years gone by, as did the dusty, wooden shelves along the walls.

(The town of Gympie was established after James Nash discovered gold in the Mary River and its surrounds in 1867.  Horace Tozer began practising as a solicitor in Gympe in 1868, specialising in mining law.

My new work mates immediately took me under their wings, making me their protégé; their pet project.

They invited me to accompany them to the dances; and there I met many new people, most of whom were older than I was. Everyone welcomed me to their world.  Even though, my friends were still going to school, we retained our friendship...and some have remained my friends to this day.

Life was so much easier and so much simpler in those days...the days of wine and roses....

The young men I met at the dances, knowing I was still just a kid, treated me well and with respect. 

One fellow, Frank Fitzpatrick (he’d attended the Christian Brothers...a Catholic school – I was raised Protestant) whom I’d not met until after I’d left school was one of those young men.  Frank was probably around four or five years older than me. Without any hidden agendas he would always walk me home after the dance at the Soldiers’ Hall was at an end.  He’d escort me to the corner at the top of my street, and there he’d wait to until I reached home...four houses along from the corner.  He’d then go on his way. 
One would hope there are young men around nowadays who do similar; who treat young girls with respect.  There probably are; they are the ones who we don’t hear about; the ones who don’t make the headlines...unfortunately.

Not wanting to waste a precious minute, I got on with life at hand.  There was so much to learn; and much fun to be had.  I was entering a brand new chapter filled with unknowns. 

I enjoyed my teenage years spent in Gympie, my hometown.

And the nearby coast, consisting a list of golden beaches and rolling surf  e.g Mooloolaba, Alexandra Headlands, Maroochydore, Coolum, Peregian Beach, Sunshine Beach...and, of course, the crème de la crème...Noosa Heads needed my in-depth exploration!  Soon every weekend from September through to June was spent at the coast.  The lure of the coast was impossible to ignore.

Leaving school and having taken the brave step into a whole new world was enough for me to deal with. The capital city of Brisbane and all its bright lights could wait a while.

Burying my uncertainties and shyness, I took a deep breath – more than one – in preparation for what lay ahead. To be honest, when I applied for the position advertised in the local newspaper, the “Gympie Times”, I had no idea what a solicitor was, other than it had something to do with the law!

Stepping out from childhood into semi-adulthood was a huge step to take. In many ways, I was on my own.  What I did from that moment forth was on my own shoulders; how I handled my life was my responsibility.

From the moment I commenced working I hit the ground running.

My teenage years in Gympie were eventful and filled with fun, the way one’s teenage years should be. My mind was open; ready and eager to learn what life had to offer.

However, I was keen to move onto a “new world”.  My mind was always racing, planning, researching and investigating avenues I could traverse.

During my lunch break one day, I raced home excitedly and  breathlessly broke my news to my mother. My great “plan” had been concocted in my mind during morning dictation!

When I rushed in, my mother was dressing and applying her make-up, readying herself for work.  She sat patiently listening as I carefully explained, in detail, my decision to join the Australian Air Force. Of course, by joining the air force, I would have to leave Gympie and head south to Victoria, which is a very long way from Gympie, hearth and home.

After I finished gushing out my grandiose plan, Mum barely blinked an eye, not stopping what she was doing; nor did she turn towards me when she had her chance to offer her opinion. Slowly directing her gaze away from her own reflection in the mirror as she toyed at her lips with her tube of lipstick, through the mirror, she looked at me and said;

 “I think that is a wonderful idea, love.”

My mother’s blasé, calm and agreeable reaction certainly burst my bubble right there and then!  Having expected a “battle royale”, one in which I would plead my case (and win), from her measured, agreeable response I was bitterly disappointed and defeated in one foul stroke.

To me it sounded like she'd be happy to be rid of me!

I never did enlist in the air force.

Nor did I become a nurse, which was another of my mind-explosions one morning, with a repeated effort of running up and down the hills of Gympie to my home during another lunch hour to announce I was going to Brisbane to train to become a nurse; and to do the training at the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

Somehow the edges of my plans were swiftly removed and shattered when my mother agreed they were good ideas! 

I had to learn to beat Mum at her brilliant psychological game, I decided! I wasn’t going to be defeated. I just had to go about the matter of my “escape” differently!